South Korea's top diplomat on Monday aired fears over Japan's recent addition of "national security" as an aim of its atomic energy law, the Asahi Shimbun reported (see GSN, June 26).
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan also voiced worries to a Japanese official over Tokyo's "plans to play a more active role in space development."
The national security clause has faced opposition from antinuclear activists and experts who worry it could be used as a legal basis for nuclear weapons development.
Seiji Maehara, who heads the policy research panel for the governing Democratic Party of Japan, dismissed any such concerns in meeting with Kim. The language pertains strictly to protective steps such as the sustainment of measures to prevent the illicit spread of nuclear materials and systems, the Japanese official said.
The South Korean diplomat also noted consternation over a bid by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to revise an understanding of his nation's constitution to permit unified protective activities. In support of Noda's bid, the Japanese National Policy Unit earlier this month recommended re-examining the constitutional provision to "expand avenues for security cooperation."
Tokyo has yet to reach a determination on altering formal understanding of the language, Maehara said last week (Takuya Suzuki, Asahi Shimbun, July 17).